During a chaotic offseason, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill started a second occupation. It wasn’t just to stay busy — and he certainly wasn’t hurting for a paycheck. Instead, he wanted to fulfill a life-long passion.
Hill became a wide receivers coach for Lee’s Summit North High School, attending coaches meetings during the summer and working with the team during their initial preseason conditioning. During the season, he’s been making it to Monday and Tuesday practices — and has been on the sideline for their Friday night games (via The Examiner).
On Wednesday, Hill was asked about his coaching gig — and he opened up with a very thoughtful answer.
“Coaching has always been something that I’ve wanted to do,” Hill revealed. “Ever since I was a kid. My dad coached me through Pop Warner and high school — he even trained me during some of my NFL offseasons. For him to help me get to the path I’m on right now, it’s amazing. The way he impacted my life, the things he taught me are some of the same things I want to be able to teach these young men I’m coaching at Lee’s Summit North.”
It’s not just something Hill wants to do as a hobby — or for fun. He expressed a true desire to help the high school student-athletes he is now coaching.
“Everyone has a purpose in life,” Hill pointed out. “My dad’s purpose was to coach and to impact the youth where I’m from. My purpose is kind of the same thing. I want to be able to mentor those guys and help lead those guys and get those guys to the level they want to get to — and that’s Division I, Division II; that’s just next-level football. Also, help mentor them to be better young men off the field — that’s what it’s all about. Yes, we love playing football, but it’s what you do outside of football is what makes you who you are. That’s why I love coaching so much.”
One aspect of Hill’s game that he might be teaching these young players differs from a typical coaching point.
“I used to get frustrated a lot when [I] read reports saying, ‘Oh, he body catches,’” recalled Hill. “My dad always taught me: a catch is a catch no matter how you get it done. Just like a win is a win, you can win by one point or 100 points, you still won the game. Same thing with a catch. If I catch an eight-yard hitch with my body and fall — and you catch an eight-yard hitch with your hands and fall — we still got the same amount of yards.”
Hill is an All-Pro wide receiver now, but he wasn’t when he entered the league. He was a running back in college, making a transition to wide receiver after the Chiefs drafted him. Coaching played a huge role in becoming the player he is — but his teammates were good teachers, too.
“Over the years, I’ve gained enough confidence to catch with my hands,” Hill said. “That comes with time. Just being around guys like Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson — watching all those guys snag the ball out of the air. I can do that too; I got some small hands but I can catch the ball. I can track the ball better than any of you all. Just like snagging the ball right out of the air, those guys really helped me and motivated me to catch the ball with my hands.”
The best coaches understand that there’s always more to learn. Hill is a rookie in the coaching industry, but his willingness as a player to adapt and be taught a new position will aid him in achieving his dream to be a coach.
His desire to mentor young adults in the Kansas City community is admirable. It is just the latest example of the Chiefs caring about more than just their success on the football field.
I’ll be honest: Hill’s words moved me. I felt every word he said about his motivation to coach. After my high school playing career ended, I had the same desire.
It wasn’t because I thought I could win a lot of games — or that I wanted to teach Xs and Os. Instead, it was about teaching young adults to work within a team structure, helping them to understand that football is just a microcosm of life. Everyone has a role — some more significant than others — but each is just as important to the team’s success. There are always all different sizes, attitudes and motives among the 11 players on a football field — yet they must all collaborate effectively in order to succeed.
In life — whether it’s in a job, a social situation or within your family — every individual is different. Yet we all must live and work together; each individual’s action could affect others in a positive or negative way. Teamwork among people with differing skills, views and attitudes is always necessary in order for a local community, city, state, country — even a whole planet — to function.
Hill may not have expressed it in exactly the same way, but his emphasis on helping players become better young men off the field was — to me — a similar sentiment. With the adversity he’s faced during his career, Hill knows as well as anyone that life will throw obstacles in your way. In those situations, it’s always about how you respond — and how you carry yourself — in overcoming them.
I believe Hill has handled the controversy that he’s faced as well as he could have. I have no doubt that experience will help him as he mentors these young men, who could now — or at some time in the future — find themselves in similar positions.